Another week full of Ivy news, with none bigger than Courtney Banghart’s move from Princeton to North Carolina. The former Big Green All-Ivy guard and Tigers head coach signed a five-year contract to take over a Tar Heels program that needs a new start. Per Jeff Gravely of WRAL in Raleigh, Banghart’s contract starts at $650,000 in 2019-2020 and increases to $730,000 in 2024-2025. Athletic and academic bonuses are included that can increase the yearly salary by $10,000 to $470,000.
With the Yale men and the Princeton women winning their respective divisions on Sunday, another Ivy League Tournament is in the books. Here are a few of my personal highlights that were not found on the television or the box scores:
No. 1 Princeton 68 vs No. 4 Cornell 47
No. 2 Penn 91 vs No. 3 Harvard 62
Tommy Amaker, Harvard men’s coach, on what he and his team have learned from their first two experiences in the Ivy League Tournament: “We’ve learned how hard it is (to win). We learned how hard it is to play in tournament atmospheres, tournament environments. We’ve played well, but haven’t been able to win the championship. You need to be a little bit lucky as well as playing well. We’re hopeful for both this weekend.”
No. 3 Harvard (16-11, 9-5 Ivy) vs. No. 2 Penn (22-5, 12-2) Sat., 8:30 p.m. (estimated) ESPN3
Season Series – Split 1-1
2/16/19 at Harvard; Harvard wins 80-72 2OT
3/1/19 at Penn; Penn wins 75-70
Penn: won four in a row and 13 of its last 15
Harvard: won two in a row and five of its last seven
Banghart earns win 250, Delaney Smith sticks at 599
In a matchup of two of the Ivy’s premier teams and coaches, the Tigers (18-9, 10-2 Ivy) came out on top of the Crimson (14-11, 7-5), 61-58, on Saturday night. With the win, Princeton coach Courtney Banghart won the 250th game of her 12-year career. Harvard’s Kathy Delaney-Smith, in her 37th year there, will have to wait one more weekend to try and capture the 600th win of her storied tenure.
In a defensive battle where both teams shot under 36 percent from the field, the Tigers were able to use its inside presence (11-for-15 vs 2-for-2 in free throws; 36 to 28 points in the paint) to offset Harvard’s league-leading outside game. The Crimson, which entered the game shooting more than 33 percent from three and averaging over nine treys a game, finished the night making only six baskets at a 23 percent accuracy.
Minutes before game time at Howard University on Monday afternoon, Harvard Basketball tweeted out the day’s second most important announcement from the D.C. campus – for the first time in 348 days, junior guard Bryce Aiken would be on the court for the Crimson.
The Harvard women’s team (7-6) defeated the No. 14 California Golden Bears at Haas Pavilion on Sunday afternoon, 85-79, for its first victory over a ranked opponent since coach Kathy Delaney-Smith’s No. 16 Crimson defeated No. 1 Stanford, 71-67, in the opening round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. The last time an Ancient Eight team bested a ranked opponent before Sunday was a 91-85 Yale win over No. 15 Florida State in Dec. 2015.
“She’s one of the best shooters in the country.”
This is how Kathy Delaney-Smith, who has been Harvard’s head coach since 1982, has described her star point guard in press conferences. While coaches understandably have a tendency to inflate their players, this is no exaggeration. Last season, Benzan launched 220 shots from downtown, sinking 45 percent of them. Her stroke was even more lethal in conference play, during which exactly 50 percent of her 102 threes found the net.
Benzan is symbolic of the trend that is transforming the game at all levels: in the Ivy League, in the WNBA, in the men’s leagues, and in high-school gyms, teams shoot the three-ball now more than ever. What was once perceived as a somewhat selfish play is now recognized as a staple of an effective offense.
No. 4 Yale
15-12 Overall (7-5 Home; 8-5 Away; 0-2 Neutral)
8-6 Ivy (5-2 Home; 3-4 Away)
2-4 vs Ivy Tournament Teams (1-1 vs Princeton; 0-2 vs Penn; 1-1 vs Harvard)
RPI #125; Sagarin #135
Preseason Rank: #5
Projected Starters: Jen Berkowitz (Sr, C), Megan Gorman (So, F), Ellen Margaret Andrews (1st Yr, F/G), Tamara Simpson (Sr, G), Roxy Barahman (So, G)